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Nockamixon Twp. promises action against light pollution interference with stargazing

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Following an impassioned plea from a local astronomer, Nockamixon officials have promised help with alleviating light pollution from a recently completed commercial project that interferes with his popular local stargazing sessions.

The discussion took place at the Sept. 15 public board of supervisors meeting.

The astronomer, “Gus” Gustafson, described how efforts by the recently completed Dollar General Store on Route 412 to effectively shield his telescope installations from their high-powered security light towers had failed. Detailed discussion ensued on how best to solve the problem, with officials noting that they were still holding escrow for the new store project.

Gustafson’s stargazing programs, featuring use of his powerful, robotic-controlled telescopes, have attracted as many as 30 attendees. The programs are part of the variety of activities under the auspices of the township’s park and recreation board.

Also at the Sept. 15 meeting, officials repeated announcement of a special public work session, on Oct. 6, that is to feature Township Engineer Steve Baluh of Wynne Associates addressing concerns by new supervisors and other residents about the proposed new Groundwater Ordinance. Opportunity has been provided for residents to submit questions for consideration.

Over five years actively in the making as legislation, and originating over 20 years ago in the township’s environmental advisory committee (EAC), the proposed revised groundwater preservation ordinance has been developed through the efforts of township officials, their staffs, and scientist and lay volunteers from the Bridgeton/Nockamixon/Tinicum Groundwater Committee (BNT-GC). It recently received favorable review by both the Bucks County Planning Commission and the Bucks County Board of Health.

Opposition has featured characterization of the measure as part of an anti-development agenda. Supporters have insisted that is not the case, but instead a way to help property owners most effectively share a common, and potentially endangered, groundwater resource, without loss of sufficient access.

Supervisors new to the topic noted difficulty in seeing a side-by-side comparison of how the proposal differed from what was presently in effect. As part of the preparation for the Oct. 6 discussion, the township engineer and supervisor, both of whom have been deeply involved in the proposal, presented a clarifying side-by-side summary.

In a recent statement, Stephen Donovan, vice chair of the BNT-GC, said, “We want the limitations of lot size to be based on the actual performance of a well, and the impact, if any, on the neighboring wells, and not based on the apparent geology per se.”

“Also, we want to make the new ordinance more defendable should the current ordinance be challenged in court. Our goal is to help guide development to keep it within the natural resource limitations of our aquifers. The last thing we want is to have development that would force municipal water and sewer to go in. Besides being exorbitantly expensive at about $100,000 per home, it would fundamentally change the character of our townships from rural to urban overnight.”

At the end of the meeting, supervisors praised Thomas A. Keebler Custom Carpentry for volunteering installation of new windows purchased for the meeting room, significantly improving air circulation.

Nockamixon Township

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